Social Media Meeting Update

Missed the Social Media Social Hour?  Here is a recap of the most common reported issues:  REALTORS must make sure any marketing they are doing complies with state law, the Code of Ethics, MLS Rules, Terms of Service,  and your own Brokerage office policy before posting.  A few tips:

In MA, there is NO “One Click” Rule – Brokerage branding must appear on any business advertisement at the time you are looking at it – a link to a profile page is not enough.

  • Your brokerage name (as registered with the Board of Registration or DBA that has been filed with the town) must be CLEAR and READILY apparent in all marketing displays. This includes listings or soliciting business. Helpful Tip: When you are looking at a listing or post about real estate services, when you take a screen shot, the Brokerage information should be visible to the consumer,
  • You are not allowed to share other agent’s listings publicly (in social media) without their permission. (MLS Rules and Copyright laws)  See our old article “Share My Listing” for details
  • You don’t have a right to republish a listing including the copyrighted photo and listing details in any manner, except with the listing broker’s permission.  The MLS has only two blanket types of permission built-in to our rules:  You are allowed to 1) to share with prospective buyers you are working with or (2) on your IDX website search, as long as you’ve given other agents the same rights to use your listings.  Appraisers are also allowed to use listings to create appraisals only, but may not display the listings on their website nor provide to prospective purchasers.
  • Your Facebook posts about business must start on a business page, according to the Facebook terms of service.  This should be your brokerage business page – or only with your broker’s consent – a business page you create for yourself.  Note: If you are creating a personal business Facebook page, you must include the name of the brokerage in the page name and contact information in the profile.  Jane Doe of ABC Realty.
  • All advertising is considered the act of the Broker and a salesperson is prohibited from advertising under their own name according to state law.  Many brokerage policies do not allow a salesperson to create a business page at all, given this restriction.
  • Your profile is a great place to store links to your email, brokerage and personal phone numbers, brokerage website address and place licensed.  You might even want to put a fair housing statement in there!
  • Facebook tip: Make sure to check the “Include original post” when sharing from a business page to your personal page to retain the business branding.
  • Can a hashtag of your brokerage name suffice?  Ask your broker what they require.  The law is shown below, and only they can decide what level of risk they are willing to assume.  Just a logo (without the firm name displayed in full) or an abbreviated firm name in hashtag would not suffice.  So ABC Realty of Berkshire County, LLC. couldn’t be #ABCRealty

Further clarification, the Board of Registration recently clarified what is “the name of the real estate broker.”

  • If there is a corporate entity then that entity, or its properly and municipally filed d/b/a must be included somewhere conspicuously in that advertisement.
  • If it is sole proprietorship then the actual Broker’s name (or d/b/a) must be also be conspicuously placed in the advertisement.
  • Only using the broker of record’s name for a licensed entity runs afoul of this rule.

All of that is about the law – we also got into briefly how social media is like a personal experience, a cocktail party if you will.  If your only interaction at the party is to show up to yell I’ve GOT A NEW LISTING, pretty soon you aren’t invited to the party.  If, on the other hand, you engage with your network of friends on a personal level and share an important part of your life, real estate, a little along the way – that’s much easier to appreciate.  Also, every post gains greater attention from a wider network.  Adding a link to your brokerage link business page isn’t just good compliance – it’s also a way to boost exposure of your post.  Your firm has a reach in addition to your own – sometimes far greater.  You should use it to help your clients! And also, where you work is a reflection on you and hopefully you are proud of the firm you work, and you should be willing to share that knowledge with your current and future client base.

Here is a link to all of the Advertising laws that are relevant.   Below are excerpts of importance:

Board of Registration Advertising Regulations: (9) Advertising. A broker shall not advertise in any way that is false or misleading.

(a) Broker Identification. No broker may advertise real property to purchase, sell, rent, mortgage or exchange through classified advertisement or otherwise unless he/she affirmatively discloses that he/she is a real estate broker. No broker shall insert advertisements in any advertising publication or other means where only a post office box number, telephone, facsimile, electronic mail number or street address appears. All advertisements shall include the name of the real estate broker.

(b) Salespersons Prohibited From Advertising. Salespeople are prohibited from advertising the purchase, sale, rental or exchange of any real property under their own name.

(c) Discriminatory Advertising Prohibited. No broker shall advertise to purchase, sell, rent, mortgage or exchange any real property in any manner that indicates directly or indirectly unlawful discrimination against any individual or group.

Code of Ethics:

  • Standard of Practice 12-5 REALTORS® shall not advertise nor permit any person employed by or affiliated with them to advertise real estate services or listed property in any medium (e.g., electronically, print, radio, television, etc.) without disclosing the name of that REALTOR® ’s firm in a reasonable and readily apparent manner.